Hong Kong-based developer, Lai Fung Group, announced plans to build a video-game complex in Hengqin island, adjacent Macau with a 15,000-seat arena.
The arena will be the centerpiece of a US$ 2.8 billion gaming theme park.
The idea for the V-Zone, as the wider project is called, was conceived about a year ago, when Lai Fung approached AEA Consulting, a New York-based arts and culture firm.
The developer had already purchased a plot on the island and was looking for an up-and-coming industry to build an attraction around.
“We started with a blank sheet of paper, and we were looking for what would be the fastest-growing field in the world,” says Chew Fook Aun, Lai Fung’s chairman. AEA suggested several potential targets, including music and cars. “The trends were with video gaming,” says Chew.
While the new arena will be the center of the development, it would make up only one part of a wider gaming-themed park to be built on a one-kilometer square site. Lai Fung hopes to attract tourists as well as gaming companies, who would build offices in the area.
The first phase of development, which includes the arena, is expected to cost US$ 480 million and is slated for completion in 2017.
Over 500 million people in China play video games, and about 145 million of them play more than an hour daily, according to Eedar, a market research firm.
In addition to playing games, an increasing number of people like to watch. Gaming videos are some of the most popular content on YouTube (GOOG), a trend that Microsoft (MSFT) and Sony (SNE) acknowledged by building streaming capabilities into their new consoles.
Live gaming competitions such as those to be be staged at the new arena on Hengqin periodically fill arenas and draw huge online audiences. A League of Legends competition last November attracted 32 million viewers, and a Call of Duty tournament last month included a $1 million prize purse.(macaunews)